MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — They’ve lost a brother, a sister, a mom, a dad, or a guardian. They come with broken hearts, soft voices and few words.
“Because my dad died,” says one. “He passed away of a heart attack, cardiac arrest.”
Another girl, Noa Harris, 9, says “This is the memory wall,” she says, showing pictures of her father. “It’s been a little hard but we’ve gotten through it.”
When Anthony Cruz’s grandfather died, Anthony’s grades started slipping.
“I didn’t have a dad,” Anthony says. “He raised me as his own and called me his son.”
Anthony’s high school counselor sent him to Our House Grief Support Center’s weekend retreat called Camp Erin in Malibu. It’s a place where painful feelings can be shared, acknowledged and hopefully healed.
“You meet people who have the same thing you are going though,” says Anthony.
Counselors say while grieving with family members is important, grieving outside the home can help tremendously.
“They may hide their feelings from their parent because you don’t want to overwhelm them,” says Our House Grief Support Center counselor Lauren Schneider.
The camp engages kids in fun activities that include swimming, rock climbing, arts, and campfires.
Kids at grief camp range from six to 17, and they’ve experienced the death of a loved one within the past three years.
Many go home with coping skills no one wishes they needed. Some make lifelong friends.
“It feels good to be with other people,” says Noa Harris. “They make you feel better.”